Allison Denenberg: Le mal du pays

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Posted on June 17, 2015 by Allison Denenberg

Studying abroad in Lyon, France during the fall semester of my junior year was one of the happiest, most incredible experiences of my life. I was able to try new foods, experience a different culture, master a foreign language, make new friends, and become a stronger, braver, and more independent person.

Although I have been back in Philadelphia for over a year now, not a day goes by that I am not somehow reminded of my life in France. After living in Lyon (which is widely regarded as the country’s gastronomic capital), it is no surprise that much of my nostalgia stems from culinary cravings. Fortunately for me, Philadelphia is home to several excellent French restaurants, bakeries, and gourmet food distributors where I can get a taste of my home away from home.

Other reminders might come from physical or historical aspects of the city. For one, Philadelphia’s City Hall was built in the French Second Empire style. Additionally, Napoleon Bonaparte’s older brother, Joseph, used to live just a few blocks from where I grew up. Furthermore, one of my favorite hangouts, Rittenhouse Square (which represents a part of the French Quarter Section of the city), was modeled after the Parc Monceau in Paris and boasts a sculpture that was recast from an Antoine Louis Barye statue in the Louvre.

Some nights, I still dream in French and wake up thinking that I am back in my host family’s house.

I know it sounds strange, but it seems that although Philadelphia has been my home for 22 years, I am homesick for France.


About the Author: Allison Denenberg is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2015.  To read more articles by Allison Denenberg, go to the search bar at the bottom of the page, type in author’s name: click the search icon.

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